Archive for December, 2005

My All-State votes

December 20, 2005

Voting has closed for the Associated Press All-State team, and although the team isn’t out yet, here’s how my ballot looked:

P.O.Y.: Hakeem Nicks, Indy
C.O.Y.: Danny Wilkins, Asheville
QB: Rodney Cox, Harnett Central
RB: Quan Warley, Thomasville
RB: Norman Whitley, Richmond County
WR: Hakeem Nicks, Indy
WR: Doug Barron, Wilson Beddingfield
TE: Demery Brewer, Lincolnton
OL: Mario Acitelli, Charlotte Catholic
OL: Pierre Andrews, Indy
OL: Carl Johnson, S. Durham
OL: Hutch Eckerton, Lumberton
OL: Scott Gunn, Williams
DL: Terry Adams, Elkin
DL: Adrian Williams, 71st
DL: Brandon Sutton, Greene Central
DL: Ricardo Crawford, W. Columbus
LB: Brandon Spikes, Crest
LB: Matt Woodlief, Bandys
LB: Matt Tripp, Ayden-Grifton
DB: Wes Steinman, Hoggard
DB: Crezdon Butler, Asheville
DB: Kendric Burney, SWO
DB: Robert Lane, Grimsley
PK: Wells Stewart, Elkin
P: Ryan McCleney, W. Columbus
KR: Trey Cole, W. Harnett
ATH: Tavorris Jolly, Shelby

Lions bring home the gold

December 11, 2005

A sneak preview of a column that will appear in Sunday’s Star:

It was eight miles away and 363 days ago, but the groundwork for Shelby’s 26-18 win over Reidsville Saturday in the 2AA State Championship Game started in the aftermath of last year’s title game loss to Southwest Onslow.

A few minutes after that disappointing loss, head coach Chris Norman had just one thing to say about his team’s chances in 2005.

“Next year starts Monday.”

Actually, it probably started in the parking lot at Wallace Wade Stadium on the bus after the game.

I’ve heard from five different players that, after crying and feeling the sting of falling short on the biggest possible stage, the team decided that next year — 2005 — will be different.

It was surely that.

The 2004 team rolled into the title game with a 14-1 record, and after dispatching Burlington Cummings in the Western 2A Finals, the Golden Lions were flying high.

Despite being heavy favorites, that team didn’t fare well in the championship game.

The 2005 season started with more disappointment with an overtime loss at Freedom. Injuries hit early, resulting in a loss at Brevard, and Shelby’s string of conference championships was snapped when it lost to East Rutherford at Blanton Memorial Stadium’s Pearley Allen Field.

That means that the Lions entered the playoffs as a No. 5 seed, making their road to redemption a little more bumpy.

After an easy win at home against North Lincoln, Norman’s squad took its act on the road. Shelby bombed East Henderson in round two, knocked off East Rutherford in an overtime thriller in round three and won again at Forest Hills in the Western Finals.

With that out of the way, all that was left was Reidsville.

The Golden Lions jumped out to a 23-3 lead and calmly weathered a late charge to bring home the gold.

The win caps off the careers of 19 seniors, but three in particular stand out.

Four-year starter Tavorris Jolly, who will play for North Carolina in Chapel Hill next season, became the school’s all-time leading rusher en route to earning the game’s most valuable player honor.

Keon Ross, also a four-year starter, was the outstanding defensive player in the game, thanks in part to a fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the game.

Antonio Odom or “Rat” as he prefers, leaves Shelby High as the school’s career leader in receptions and yardage.

And they all leave knowing that there isn’t any more unfinished business.

A season ends early

December 2, 2005

There’s so much about this story that’s yet to be told, but here’s my column that appeared in Saturday’s Star…

Friday was one of the most interesting — and darkest — days in the history of Cleveland County high school football.

It was supposed to be a day of celebration, as everyone from Shelby and Crest woke up planning to play for the right to compete for a state championship.

Sadly, things didn’t turn out that way.

Crest reported itself to the North Carolina State High School Athletic Association Friday for using an ineligible player, an offense that resulted in Crest forfeiting all of their games for the 2005 season — including the 4A Western Final game against Greensboro Grimsley.

Unfortunately, the fact that the folks at Crest High didn’t try to sweep it under the rug doesn’t change the NCHSAA’s ruling. Rules are rules, now matter the intent.

It’s an absolute shame.

It’s a shame because there are 64 other players on the Chargers’ playoff roster who did nothing wrong who won’t get the chance to play on high school football’s biggest stage.

It’s a shame because 25 of those kids are seniors who will never again pull on a Crest jersey.

It’s a shame that those players, the 11 coaches and all the trainers have been busting their rear ends since the dog days of summer and their season had to end on a conference call, instead of on a football field.

It’s a shame because thousands of students, parents and fans invested time and money to plan a trip that isn’t going to happen.

It’s a shame because Greensboro Grimsley won’t get the chance to test itself against a Crest team that was on a real roll, and it’s a shame that the Whirlies, and the state, will miss out on all that gate money.

The real shame of it all is that most of the people I just mentioned had nothing to do with a player ending up ineligible.

Someone is to blame, though. Predictably, there wasn’t much talking going on at Crest High School Friday. I can understand that.

Still, there needs to be an inquiry as to how and why this happened. Because right now, there are way more questions than answers.

Was it an oversight? An honest mistake? A cover-up gone wrong?

Who found it? A teacher? A coach? A parent?

The problem here is the lack of information. When something like this happens, people involved start looking for answers. When there are no answers, rumors start filling the vacuum.

And the bag needs changing.